Content Marketing for Nonprofits: Does it make sense for you?

The truth is, nonprofits have been doing content marketing for centuries, so you might be way ahead of the curve. With a few tweaks to the content you already publish, you can use existing material in new ways and with new audiences.

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is providing information to your audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” For nonprofits, content marketing is educating your audience on topics that help you accomplish your mission.


You probably already have content!

Because most nonprofits are in the “business” of helping, educating, or advocating, you probably already create educational pieces for the people you serve. 

  • Ministries create devotionals.
  • Government agencies create “how-to” checklists.
  • Community Clinics create healthy living hand-outs.
  • Advocacy groups create “what you need to know” materials.

All of these are examples of content. And nonprofits excel at creating content with their audience in mind!


Using your program materials for content marketing

While most of the content that you create for programs is meant to help and educate the population you serve, it is probably helpful to your volunteers and donors as well. Who cannot use a healthy recipe or tips on winterizing homes?

Consider adding some of your program content into your donor communications through appeal letters, annual reports, and newsletters. Even if the information does not pertain to your donors, they will appreciate knowing what you do in the field. Seeing your content will give them a more complete picture of what happens at your organization on a daily basis.


Moving beyond storytelling to develop a deeper relationship

Storytelling is important in communicating with your supporters, because the stories of what you do help to make your work more personal and real to outsiders. While storytelling can be a form of content marketing, it is often used to engage people and pull them in.

Consider content marketing phase 2 in donor/volunteer retention. Your story might have caught their attention at first, but content will deepen their understanding of your mission and reasons for existence.


Creating Donor-specific Content

There are times when it makes sense to create content that is written specifically for your donors and volunteers. Depending on your mission, educating your supporters on the issues that threaten (or the opportunities that exist) the audience you serve can help “market” your cause.


Here are a few ways that non-profits can create donor/volunteer content:


  1. Educate on underlying issues

If you consider the donors and volunteers that invest in your organization, they probably have a deeper sense of why your mission matters. For example, they probably understand that poverty cannot be fixed by getting people jobs; the sociological reality is much more complicated. Your donors and volunteers WANT to understand more. They want to know how you are helping both in the now and in the long term. But, they will only know that if you tell them. Content marketing is creating materials that help them learn more about the underlying issues, so they have a better understanding of your mission.


  1. Creating Advocates

Many donors and volunteers that have a deeper understanding of your cause will want to tell others, so create content that arms them with the information they need to advocate for your organization and the population you serve. When your advocates choose to speak up for your organization, be sure that they feel confident to do so. That will make your supporters feel more confident about their ability to advocate. More advocates (with correct information) can only help your organization and the population you serve.


  1. Build your credibility

Ultimately, you want donors and volunteers to support you because they trust you. One piece of building trust is showing your supporters that you know what you are doing! Content marketing can help you build credibility. By showing that you know the issues and keep up-to-date on current events, supporters will have confidence that you are the right organization to support.


Baby Steps

Content Marketing does not need to be a headache. First, begin with what you already have and share it in the publications you already create. Consider content marketing to be a collaboration between your program and development staff. If you want to get fancy, tweak the materials that you use in the field for your donors and volunteers. You might be surprised at how little effort it takes.

If you are already using program content with your donors and volunteers, consider how you might create original content for them. While this will take you more time, you will find that informed supporters are worth it.

Finally, content marketing is not a quick endeavor and does not show quick results. Give yourself time to figure out how content marketing makes sense considering your resource limitations and your organization structure. But, also give your content time to make a difference.

If you would like more information about communicating with your donors and volunteers, request more information below. 

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